Cyril Koky: Ostrava's dilemma- the never-ending housing story

The situation around the eviction of 200 residents from derelict apartment buildings on Přednádraží street in Ostrava-Přívoz has been followed in detail by the whole country for several days now. Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková has called on representatives of the Municipal Department of Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz "to ensure all residents living in the dilapidated buildings receive emergency, temporary accommodation in residential hotels as long as the prices will be acceptable to them so their social situations do not deteriorate further." Her statement was published by news server
The press has reported that the evictions might be related to business plans, but this cannot be confirmed. Be that as it may, it is not possible to allow people to live in catastrophic conditions for several years while arguments drag on over who owns the sewer lines and who is responsible. Why did the relevant local authorities not take action long ago?
Any decision to evict a rather large number of families with children from one day to the next must be discussed and prepared in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the current situation is the result of the Municipal Department of Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz and the landlord failing to resolve it. I am very curious to read what the ombudsman's report on this matter will have to say.

Anyone working in the field knows very well that the housing is de facto inaccessible to people living in socially excluded areas. A large portion of these people unfortunately live in municipally-owned or privately-owned residential hotels throughout the country. They pay high rents for a single room, often for an entire family. We should not be at all surprised that the tenants in Ostrava-Přívoz fear for their futures and don't know where they and their families will be laying their heads to sleep at night. However, the eventual removal of these people into the residential hotels should be a temporary solution only. The municipal department should assign adequate housing to the families who have been paying their rent properly.
The state has completely backed away from implementing a reasonable housing policy for middle and low-income groups of residents and instead is paying a great deal of money to house them in these residential hotels. Many real estate speculators are getting rich from this public money.
A significant portion of the Romani population living in the Czech Republic is encountering an enormous problem with housing availability. They are very often unable to take out mortgages in order to acquire their own housing. Most towns and villages are no longer constructing their own housing - on the contrary, very often their own housing stock was privatized long ago. The only possible solution, therefore, is for people to move in with their relatives or to the residential hotels. The serious housing problem in which a significant portion of the Romani population has found itself is becoming a time bomb.
In this context I would like to give an example from Slovakia. The Slovak Ministry of Transportation, Construction and Regional Development has been providing non-returnable financing for the construction of lower-standard municipal rental housing since 1999. These apartments are primarily intended for people in material distress. The owner of the apartments is the town or village and they cannot be privatized for 30 years from the date of their construction. This program has been running in Slovakia for more than 10 years and has constructed almost 2 900 apartments. The future tenants participated in the building work.

Cyril Koky, Vice-Chair of the Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů České republiky), translated by Gwendolyn Albert